Monday 1 August 2016

Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, USA, 2008)

The theatre piece was never named, although Caden Cotard played with a few titles, amongst them (early on) Simulacrum, and (much later) Infectious Diseases in Cattle. It is in ruins. Caden walks through the mise-en-scène: deserted, graffitied, rubbish strewn streets. He is old now, balding, what hair he has is silver-white, he treads judiciously, moving onwards with the aid of his cane, stooped. Soon he will sit, and speak these words: ‘I know how to do this play now… I have an idea… I think…’. But before he can speak further, he is given the direction: ‘Die.’ On a wall nearby is a clock face spray-painted on raw brick. It reads 7:45. One of the three women (more-or-less) in his life, Hazel, once told him: ‘the end is built into the beginning.’ 7:45 was the time Caden awoke at the beginning of the film, the day when he became aware everything had changed.

Caden Cotard awakes, the alarm clock is receiving a broadcast, the DJ announces it is fall, and an academic reads a poem about death. On the TV downstairs – as Caden eats his breakfast with his partner Adele Lack and their daughter – a PBS channel cartoon shows farm animals learning about viruses. Things are going on beneath the surface... Director Charlie Kaufman – with Synecdoche, New York – creates a crystal image, a hyalosign: a film exploring the seed and the environment. Hyalosigns are films in which the actual image on-screen is opened up to virtual correlates, and the seed and the environment is one way of creating such a relation of the actual and the virtual: actual seed → virtual environment...

To read the full exploration of Synecdoche, New York through the Deleuze's sign of 'seed and environment,' see Deleuze's Cinema Books: Three Introductions to the Taxonomy of Images...

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